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Violent white nationalists pose a dangerous and growing risk to the nation and, as the attack on the Capitol Jan. 6 showed, a threat to American democracy. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Mayorkas called domestic extremists “the most lethal and persistent terrorism-related threat to our country today.”

  • Elizabeth Neumann, former assistant secretary for Threat Prevention and Security Policy at DHS, now chief strategy officer at Moonshot, said limited data inside government about these groups, a tendency for them to be less organized and change frequently and the fact that white nationalists are usually American citizens present a challenge for the federal government.
  • Neumann said she “absolutely” agrees with Sec. Mayorkas, stating that there was a 69% increase in domestic violent extremism incidents in 2020.
  • DHS tasked the chief security officer to update standards and training for screening people during the hiring process in an effort to remove white supremacist ideology from the government, said Neumann.
  • The primary goal of domestic terrorist organizations is to overthrow the government, leading them to try to recruit members of law enforcement and the military, a small percentage of whom are vulnerable due to PTSD, Neumann said.
  • She said many of the government’s efforts against domestic extremism focus on prevention, such as partnering with state and local governments to develop programs to help people susceptible to becoming involved.

Watch the full interview:

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